Markkula Center of Applied Ethics

Ethics Cases

Technology Ethics Cases

Big Farma: Prescriptive Planting
Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus, Robert Boyd Skip
Focus: Aggregating agricultural data by agricultural corporations like Monsanto and Dupont may increase yield but allow manipulation

Good Machine, Nice Machine, Superintelligent Machine
Peggy Connolly, Ruth Ann Althaus, Robert Boyd Skip
Focus: Will intelligent machines ultimately be good or bad for humans?

Removing a Search Result: An Ethics Case Study
Irina Raicu
Focus: A woman asks Google to remove a link to an article about her rape as a 13-year-old from searches on her name.

Should You Watch? On the Responsibility of Content Consumers
Irina Raicu
Focus: Is it a violation of privacy to watch YouTube videos or online photos of beheadings or nude celebrities?

The Psychological Experiment You Consented To in Facebook's Terms of Service
Kirk O. Hanson and Patrick Coutermarsh
Focus: For one week in 2012, half a million Facebook users took part in a massive psychological experiment aimed at discovering if emotions could be spread through social media. The problem? Users had no idea it was happening.

Hashtag Activism and the Power of Attention: An Ethics Case Study
Irina Raicu
Focus: Hashtag activism focuses attention on emerging problems. Is that always a good thing?

Can a CEO Hold Conflicting Values with his or her Company?
Kirk Hanson and Patrick Coutermarsh
Focus: Mozilla CEO under fire for Prop 8 contributions.

To Read--or Not To Read--the Comments
Irina Raicu
Focus: Despite the vitriol prevalent in Internet comments, should readers view and help to moderate them?

Are App Developers on the Hook?
Kirk Hanson and Patrick Coutermarsh
Focus: The app market allows just about anyone to publish their software for download by the masses. Do these developers have the same obligations to their users as traditional businesses?

Should Companies Admit They've Been Hacked?
Kirk Hanson and Patrick Coutermarsh
Focus: What public relations policy should companies adopt when dealing with a cyber security breach?

Facebook, Freedom of Speech, and Teens around the World
Irina Raicu
Focus: Facebook's privacy policy for teens may pose risks for young people living under governments that punish certain forms of expression.

Clicking Through to the Ethics of Social Media Terms of Service: Three Case Studies
Irina Raicu
Focus: Social media users may not understand the terms they agree to when they hit the "Agree" button.

Surreptitious Surveillance on the Internet
Irina Raicu
Focus: A cyber-security expert is asked to help the Saudi government with intercepting communications.

Instagram and the Ethics of Privacy
Alexis Babb and Amanda Nelson
Focus: Is it wrong for an Internet company to share users' information with third-parties and advertisers?

Apps and Privacy: A Case Study
Irina Raicu
Focus: Should apps be able to collect a user's contacts without permission?

Girls Around Me
Irina Raicu
Focus: Case study on Internet Privacy

Information Privacy: A Case Study and Commentary
Michael McFarland, S.J.
Focus: A proposal for a National AIDS registry raises concerns about privacy

Occidental Engineering: An Ethics Case Study and Commentary
Michael McFarland, S.J
Focus: A case study and analysis of an ethical dilemma facing a software engineer

Facebook Gossip or Cyberbullying
Miriam Schulman
Focus: When Paige expresses her annoyance at her roommate in her Facebook status, is she cyberbullying?

World of Warren
Miriam Schulman
Focus: Warren is so involved in WoW that he rarely leaves his computer except to go to class. Is there anything ethically wrong with what he's doing?

When Do I Friend?
Noelle Lopez
Focus: Do the same rules apply to Facebook friends and "real-world" friends?

The Case of the X979 Jumpstart
Peter A. Facione
Focus: This fictional case study asks us to consider the ethical boundaries involved in intellectual property.

The Sole Remaining Supplier
Thomas Shanks
Focus: What are the ethical questions involved when a company is the only supplier of a high-risk, life-saving product?